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Analysis and comments on To Helen 1 by Edgar Allan Poe

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Comment 8 of 98, added on January 21st, 2005 at 8:55 PM.

The poem "To Helen", often praised by Romantics as a near perfect statement
of ideal beauty and love can be interpreted many different ways. Although,
there may be a discrepancy of who the inspiration of the poem was, the poem
could be described as a devotion to an ideal of beauty, only conceived
through one's own imagination. But, looking further into the poem and
researching its many aspects, I have come across that maybe Poe's, To Helen
could be an attempt at escaping, through imagination, to the classical
past, i.e. Greece and Rome, two of the major ages of classical history. If
you will study in Line 2, the word "Nicean". Although some think it could
be derived from Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory (thus victorious "barks
of yore"), Nicea was a city in the Byzantine Empire, thought to be close if
not possibly the site of legendary Troy. That would explain the barks of
yore (small ships from long ago) that brought the "wanderer" back to his
"native home). Also, along with the allusions to classical Greece and Rome,
Poe further uses classical beings, such as the Naiads, water nymphs that
controlled waterways, streams, rivers, lakes, etc. Another allusion Poe
skillfully uses is Pysche. Yes, "pysche" does mean self or soul, but I
believe he is using the Greek myth of Pysche, Cupid's lover and wife. In
the myth she reveals her lover's identity (Cupid) by lifting a lamp to
light the dwelling. this could explain Line 13 "The agate lamp within thy
hand". He could mean that she is revealing the wanted land and is trying to
show the wanderers the way. An "agate lamp" is also known as a symbol of
immortality, a gift bestowed upon Pysche by Jupiter, who gave her to Cupid
to marry. That leaves the question about what does "Holy-Land" (line 15)
mean? Well, Israel and Palestine are often depicted as the Holy Land, with
much descrepancy; so if, one of the two are the Holy Land, then Greece
could be thought of as the sacred place of the arts. Hopefully, these
suggestions will be taken into account. I pray that instead of fighting
about who is right. Look into the poetry and try to interpret and decipher
his work. It is a shame that you must bicker over one of Poe's great works.
Just look at the poetry!

Erin W. from United States
Comment 7 of 98, added on January 21st, 2005 at 8:48 AM.

I thought posting was used to help others not to be bitter and correct
others mistakes in a egotistical manner. I am confused and unsure of who is
correct. Thanks!

Barbara from United States
Comment 6 of 98, added on January 18th, 2005 at 7:39 PM.

Actually Poe was inspired to write To Helen by the mother of his friend but
the poem itself is not about any actual woman but about the ideal of beauty
that can only exist in one's imagination.

Eileen from United States
Comment 5 of 98, added on January 10th, 2005 at 2:56 AM.

I'm sorry, but you're all wrong, since this poem was written in 1831, Poe
hadn't even met Virginia yet, much less have married her

Stefanie from United States
Comment 4 of 98, added on December 6th, 2004 at 7:54 PM.

this poem is about the helen of troys beauty.he compares helens beauty to
virginia his former wife. the lamp that helen/statue is holding symbolizes
immortallity as a staue could never die!!!

Brandon Pratt from United States
Comment 3 of 98, added on November 30th, 2004 at 6:58 PM.

actually it was written about Helen of Troy

Comment 2 of 98, added on November 11th, 2004 at 12:59 PM.

This poem was actually written about his first childhood crush, Jane
Stanard. She was his best friend's mother and encouraged his writing. She
sadly died of Brain Cancer when he was in his teens. I just wanted to
correct the mistake. Great Poem!

Veronica from United States
Comment 1 of 98, added on November 6th, 2004 at 2:52 PM.

Right now I been studying about Allan Poe's life and his works. Allan Poe
has been the first poet that has catched my attention till this point.
Allan Poe's life was, what most impact me. Allan lived a very miserable
life. All his works were not recognized until after his death, which was
very sad. Allan suffered two deaths thru out his life.First it was his mom,
then his wife, which both died from tuberculosis. His wife's death was the
reason for this poem, "To Helen" Helen, was Allan Poe's wife. In this poem
Allan is expressing his feelings towards Helen. Allan is remembering his
wife thru the beautiful nature that he sees. Allan feels that Helen will
always be him, that nature is Helen.

Dennisa Montes from United States

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Information about To Helen 1

Poet: Edgar Allan Poe
Poem: To Helen 1
Year: 1831
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 18362 times
Poem of the Day: Jul 25 2005

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